If you’re anything like me, half the problem with making school lunch is a complete lack of inspiration. I often find myself standing in front of the pantry, lunchbox in hand, not knowing where to start. Which is ridiculous, really! It’s just a bit of lunch, and I’ve been feeding my daughter lunch for seven and a half years now …

There’s something about a lunchbox that complicates things, though. Maybe it’s those empty bento sections staring up at you, the ever-increasing list of things your kids won’t eat, or maybe even the pressure of filling it with rainbow coloured food that looks like a work of art?

Whatever the blocker is, it’s there, and it’s felt by parents everywhere. In fact, my Grandma told me recently, “I would have loved LunchFox when your mum and Uncle were kids: I never knew what to put in their darn lunchbox”. So, there it is … a common struggle felt not only globally, but across generations!

While I can’t claim to have all the answers, there is a little cheat that I often use when making my girls’ school lunch: The Rule of Five.

Legend has it (and by legend, I mean science) that the key to a perfect lunchbox lies in five essential food groups: grains & cereals, meat & alternatives, dairy & alternatives, fruit and vegetables. If your lunchbox contains these five categories, you have created a nutritionally balanced lunch filled with everything your children need to get them through a hard day of learning (and doing cartwheels outside the Grade Two building).

You can use The Rule of Five like a roll call:

Most of us would probably start with a sandwich, or something similar: pasta, rice, a wrap maybe. These are your grains and cereals. From there, simply work through the remaining food groups, checking them off as you go. Meat & alternatives: maybe some chicken strips left over from last night, a boiled egg, some hummus. These are all great sources of protein. Dairy: a yoghurt, some cheese cubes, Tatziki if you’re feeling fancy! 

Fruit and veggies are self-explanatory, but what if your child is a bit hesitant? There are tricks and tips here, too. Fruit it often easier to get into your children: little fruit kebabs, dried fruit and popcorn mixes. If you type “fruit bliss balls” into Pinterest you’ll be inundated with delicious ideas. 

Vegetables are often a different story. Some days my daughter likes carrot sticks, sometimes she insists she has “NEVER LIKED THEM, MUMMY”. Again, Pinterest can become your best friend. There are so many easy, savory muffins out there that hide all sorts of veggies inside. I often use avocado instead of butter when making sandwiches and was absolutely elated to see that Nutrition Australia lists popcorn as a vegetable in their Pick-n-Mix 1-6 document! Attached below

Whatever food you land on, using this simple Rule of Five is a great way to focus your energy and help with that significant lack of lunchbox inspiration!